iAd Producer, the unsung UX prototyping tool at Apple

iAd Producer, next to Keynote, Sketch and Quicktime, is one of the most important tools in my UX Toolkit. If you haven’t used it, I suggest you read Linda Dong’s article, which is far better an introduction than anything my fat face can come up with. I write this as a set of observances to complement the original article, as there are a few things it doesn’t address that might come in useful for anyone who is looking for further information about this excellent UX Tool.

It’s still freely available on Apple’s website

Hooray! You can get it for free today with an Apple ID (free to setup) and heading to this page. If, by the time you read this, the page has gone down, then I’m sure some soul will have archived it somewhere.

Installing iAd Tester on your iDevice just got a whole lot more difficult.

Sad but true, iAd was discontinued as a platform a few months ago. As a result of this, while you can still view ads in a simulator or the “quick preview” on the program itself (which may be enough for you), viewing via an iDevice just got a little tricky. Well, for the first timers at least. I’ve tried to simplify the steps as much as possible, but sorry, it’s a list and I can’t do much else about it.

On your iDevice

  1. If you’ve tried to install iAd Producer onto your phone before, you should start clean. Go to Settings > General > Profile > and delete all entries to do with iAd in there (should be named something to do with iAd — don’t delete anything else!)
  2. Set your clock back to any date before July 2nd, 2016

On your Mac

3. From iAd Producer, click Preview > Preview on Device

4. You should get an app install prompt, so say “Next” or “Yes”

5. You should also get the install profile prompt, so say “Next” to this too.

On your iDevice

6. This will take you to an install profile page on the phone. Tap “Install” on the top right and be prepared to put in your passcode. When it is all done tap “Done”

7. Set your date back to today.

8. Go back to General > Profile > and look at the section marked “Enterprise App”. Tap “iAd Tester.”

If it says “Verified”, then we are ready. If there is a button with blue text saying something like “Trust this app” or words to that effect then tap that.

9. Open the App!

It works for the latest iPhones (6s and 6s Plus)

Yup! Happy to say that we have tested it with a 6s and 6s Plus, but there are a few caveats you should be aware of.

  1. If you are using a 6S, make sure you select the correct screen size in the top corner of the screen before you start designing. For a 6s this is “iPhone Retina (2x) 4.7 inch”, for a 6s Plus this is the 5.5 inch option.
  2. If you are using a 6s Plus with the Display Zoom set as “Zoomed”, you’ll run into sizing issues. If this is the case, use the preset for the 6s mentioned above (the 4.7 inch view) and it should look fine.

Moral of that story is, work out which size you’ll be testing on before you start designing (and choose your level of zoom on a 6 Plus sized phone!)

3D Support is available but with limitations

Is there any other prototyping tool that has 3D support?! (Maybe Quartz Composer, but thats a long shot). By default, OBJ models are the only supported format of model and your model HAS to have one texture. What I mean by this is if you have your model like this:

And a texture file like this:

Only then will your file look like this when inserted:

If not, you’ll get a black unshaded model. If you need help with this, I strongly recommend Meshlab to fix your 3D model. Make sure you drag both your texture and OBJ file (and mtl file if available) to the assets area for the obj to be correctly loaded.

You can “nest” Objects together

This is one area where iAd Producer truly shines and makes the app potentially limitless with interactions. If we take a panorama object, add it to the page and double click on it, we can see the cells contained within.

Go a random cell and add a Stack object:

Now, click out and preview it:

The stack stays in one place as you change the view. Voila!

You can view your ad unit in Safari

Simply do a File > Export to get the “.ad” file containing your ad. Go the ad folder and look for the “AdUnit” subfolder. Your index.html file should work perfectly in Safari (no other browser seems to work). Yes, this does mean if you are good at CSS/Javascript, the whole file is your oyster.

You can use most of the functions of the iPhone

Camera, gyroscope, Apple Music, Twitter, SMS, Contact Lists, Calendars and a lot more are very much available for your disposal.

Fin

Well, that’s all folks. Here to play us out is a Pokémon Go UX prototype made in iAd producer. Who said you can’t prototype UX for games, eh?

If you want me to do a tutorial or share any other tips, let me know and if there’s enough interest, I’ll do one!

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